[Editor’s Note: Will we ever get to the bottom of the mystery of why bisexual women smoke weed the most? Do you have your theory?]
Bisexual women smoke a lot of weed.
Three times more than other communities, with 38% of bisexual women reporting using cannabis compared to just 20% of lesbians and 5% of straight women. Researchers who have studied the subject, from Canada to the United States and Australia, agree on the fact that bi-women smoke the most. But that’s about the only concrete conclusion researchers have been able to draw.
The big question lingers: Why exactly does this correlation exist?
It’s a great question, and one that seems all the murkier by research standards. It has also been found that bisexual men do not have the same tendencies as their feminine counterparts. Sure, they still smoke their fair share of bud, but not to the same extent of bisexual women.
This would seem to suggest that bisexuality itself is not the factor at play here … so what is?
How Anxiety Bridges Bisexuality and Cannabis
Since these statistics first came to light, many theories have been floating around the issue. Most notably perhaps, researchers and the public seem to focus on anxiety and mental health as the correlation between bisexual women and cannabis use.
Bisexual people experience much higher rates of anxiety compared to their straight and gay peers. Bisexuals are also 80% more likely to have anxiety than the average person, and one-third of bisexual people report high levels of anxiety. Issues such as biphobia, bi-erasure, and the absence of community can be contributing factors.
Many bisexuals feel stuck in the middle of two groups that won’t accept or embrace them, and face discrimination from monosexual communities. This sense of not belonging or feeling pressure to “pick a side” is absolutely anxiety inducing.
However, bisexual men face these same challenges at the same rates as bisexual women, and also have high rates of anxiety. In fact, bisexual men statistically struggle the most with coming out. So, if discrimination against bisexuality is the cause of high anxiety—and thus the catalyst for greater use of cannabis—then why don’t bisexual men use weed as much as women?
Some researchers suggest that sexism is the missing link. Could it be that facing this additional stigma is enough to tip the scales and create just enough added anxiety that more bisexual women are turning to cannabis to soothe their nerves? When considering this theory, one has to wonder whether the addition of further marginalizations would continue this hypothetical trend. For example, would a disabled bisexual woman smoke more cannabis than an able-bodied bisexual woman?
We simply can’t say for certain, as the data and studies do not currently exist to explore this notion, and thus the theory that discrimination equals anxiety equals cannabis use, remains a hypothesis.
This does raise another query, which is whether there is even a correlation between higher anxiety levels and greater use of cannabis. It’s an interesting question, since anxiety seems to be one of the most hit or miss syndromes when it comes to medical marijuana. Some find the herb helps calm their nerves, while others will tell you it exasperates their symptoms.
Is Sensation Seeking the Cause?
The research that has been done on this topic is equally split. Some studies report cannabis is an effective anxiety reliever, while other research shows how cannabis can cause anxiety and paranoia. A lot of this comes down to finding the right strain, and paying attention to THC levels. However, while new research may shine a light on which strains do and do not relieve anxiety, we still cannot say for certain if anxious people are using more weed than the general population.
What if it has nothing to do with anxiety at all? Are there any other prevailing theories? This question brings us to the concept of sensation seeking, a hypothesis that bisexual men and women have personality traits that motivate them to seek new experiences. This would, in theory, be a reason that more bisexual women have been open to trying cannabis. However, once again, it fails to account for why bisexual men do not consume cannabis at the same rates, and the conclusion is tenuous at best. In addition, if “sensation seeking” is to blame, wouldn’t bisexuals also be using other drugs at higher rates? Why would cannabis stand out uniquely?
Could it have something to do with mental health? Or personality traits? Could it be something else entirely? It’s possible we may never have a clear answer.
“[Sensation seeking] doesn’t explain why bi women are using cannabis specifically. We have to look at trends in a broader context…” Dr. Margaret Robinson told The Daily Beast in an article titled, Why Do Bi Women Smoke So Much Weed? Dr. Robinson conducted focus groups and interviews with bisexual women on the subject, and it’s worth nothing that she is of the belief that mental health is the answer to the article’s title question.
“We have to look at trends in a broader context and the context for bisexuals is generally one of high stigma and social isolation. People rarely thrive under those conditions,” she concludes.
But remember that correlation does not equal causation. Currently, we can safely say that we know that bisexual women report the highest level of cannabis use. The answer as to why, will remain purely speculative unless further studies are done, and even then, self-reported studies are always open to dishonesty and thus inaccuracies in data.
Could it have something to do with mental health? Or personality traits? Could it be something else entirely? It’s possible we may never have a clear answer.
Personal Experience Among the Research
I feel comfortable offering my own anecdotal perspective. I am a bisexual woman who has anxiety and I also happen to be a frequent cannabis user. If asked why I believe I fit these statistics, and what reason I may give for the cause, I wouldn’t be able to tell you.
I’ve had anxiety since long before I understood I was bisexual, since before I felt the invisibility and erasure that comes along with being a part of the bisexual community, since before I finally publicly came out (holla June 2016). I’ve also been smoking cannabis for over a decade, and I personally don’t use it for anxiety, but rather for pain relief, relaxation, and especially insomnia. I cannot properly explain why I am both bisexual and a stoner.
The fact of the matter is that it’s not possible to draw any firm conclusions with the results of these studies, but perhaps it’s okay not to know. We may not understand why bisexual women seem to smoke the most weed, but at least we know the odds are good that the bisexual women in your life will always be happy to share a blunt and a bong with you—just don’t ask us to choose between the two.
Original Post: Leafly: Reports Claim Bisexuals Smoke the Most Cannabis. Is There Any Truth to It?
[Editor’s Note: From packaging to store design, our industry is evolving. These are just some of the ways the cannabis industry has grown.]
The legal cannabis industry has seen tremendous growth over the past few years, and it continues to improve each day. And with legality comes maturity—today’s world of weed is a far cry from that of yesteryear: there have been exponential improvements to the way we view cannabis, purchase cannabis, and live a cannabis lifestyle.
Legalization has brought maturity, innovation, professionalism, and credibility to cannabis. Below, delve into five ways the industry has grown up.
Packaging That Appeals to Adults
Part of being taken seriously as a brand means paying attention to packaging, logos, and product design. With the cannabis industry belonging to adults 21 and over, it makes sense that brands within the industry would want to appeal to those looking for reputable products. At the end of the day, a package with a unique logo and sleek design says “credible” more than one that has a lackluster or juvenile look.
Companies have always strived to have their logos and brands be household names, and the cannabis industry is no different. Legal states can find professional products carving out their space in dispensaries with recognizable and well-designed looks aimed to make consumers feel confident in choosing their product.
Dispensaries Care About Interior Design
Stepping into a dispensary should feel like stepping into a professional establishment, not a shabby parlor or dealer’s den. Business owners want to be taken seriously, so they are putting in the effort by hiring interior designers and local artists to create beautiful and welcoming spaces for their clients. The result is well-established dispensaries, beautiful enough to catch the eye, and functional enough to cater to high-volumes of new and repeat customers.
Cannabinoids Have More Validity Than Indica/Sativa
Back in the day, one of the few ways to judge a strain was to ask, “indica or sativa?” We’ve come a long way since then. While indica/sativa labels can be a mildly helpful way to determine how a strain will affect you, it is ultimately a flawed classification that doesn’t compare to exact cannabinoid percentages and ratios.
It’s one thing to know that Blue Dream is a hybrid, it’s another to know your strain of Blue Dream has 24% THC, 0.2% CBD, and 0.01% THCV. Today, as the science has deepened, people can find these specifics in dispensaries across the nation. Approaching cannabis—medical or recreational—with scientific knowledge and understanding, vastly improves consumer’s experience and lends validity to the industry, which we can all benefit from.
Sexy Nurses Are Out, Legitimate Cannabis Doctors Are In
Scantily clad “nurses” in weed-themed apparel were not an uncommon sight in magazines and events just a few years ago and phasing out this old icon is certainly a sign of the industry taking itself more seriously. Instead of fake nurses, the cannabis industry has medical marijuana MDs at the forefront in interviews, events, and in doctor offices near you.
In addition, promoters advertising events, or editors picking their cover photos, are more often choosing to forego cheap gimmicks and instead put the spotlight on everyone’s favorite flower and all her lovely trichomes—which is exactly where the attention should be.
It’s Time to Shine for Organic and Healthy Edibles
The world of edibles has come a long way from cookies, brownies, and gummies. Sure, these products still exist and are available at any time to soothe a sweet tooth, but with maturity comes knowing when to opt for candy and when to choose something healthy. After all, for many, edibles are medication.
Many brands are now choosing healthier ingredients, and it’s even possible to find options for those who prefer organic, gluten-free, or vegan eats. There will always be room in our hearts for the classic pot brownie, but having healthier options goes to show how the industry is growing to cater to a wide range of people and dietary needs.
Original Post: Leafly: 5 Ways the Cannabis Industry Has Matured
“Our philosophy is that cannabis is a tool, one of many healing tools. It should be part and parcel of an overall treatment plan,” says Donna Shields, co-founder of the Holistic Cannabis Academy in Boulder, Colorado.
The HCA, an educational program on medical cannabis for practitioners, was developed by Shields and co-founder Laura Lagano—both registered dietician nutritionists. Continued education is expected, even required of healthcare professionals; but, when it came to medical cannabis, programs simply didn’t exist to fill that important space. When Shields realized that her colleagues knew little to nothing about cannabis, she saw it as an opportunity.
Cannabis, Synergy, and Whole Body Health
With a belief that cannabis (and all medical treatments) should be viewed through a larger lens, importance is given to the “whole body system” and how, physically, everything is related. With personal support for the “synergistic” effect in treatment care, Shields considers integrating cannabis with various modalities of healthcare, such as a good nutrition plan, acupuncture, aromatherapy, meditation, and yoga, as an important facet to healing.
“Cannabis is a tool, one of many healing tools. It should be part and parcel of an overall treatment plan.”
Donna Shields, Co-founder of HCA
“You don’t have to be in one camp or the other. Cannabis can be used in conjunction with your medication; we never tell anyone to stop taking their medication,” she says. “This can be an integral part of your treatment plan. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.”
This is exactly what Shields and Lagano have built the Holistic Cannabis Academy for: broadening perspectives and giving health practitioners a greater understanding of cannabis’ place in the medical world.
The program is run entirely online with rolling admissions, so people can join at any time. Shields markets the program in a variety of ways, including accessing medical conferences and hosting online summits. Their first summit spanned four days, 28 speakers, and 17,000 people opting in to the program.
The classes aren’t limited to certain geographical locations either, which means their student body reaches across the globe, including Canada, New Zealand, Spain, and Australia. In fact, interest abroad may be less apprehensive than here in the states.
“I see those in Canada as already being more holistically minded, so this isn’t that big a leap [for them],” says Shields. “As Canada looks to fully legalize, they’re not hamstrung by the same issues that we have [in the United States], so it’s been more comfortable for them to think about it.”
The HCA was approved for continuing education credit hours in Canada, which makes it easier for students to justify spending time and money on the program.
The Holistic Cannabis Academy was recently approved for continuing education credit hours through the Canadian Health Coach Alliance and Canadian Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
This is a big deal, because it allows health practitioners to meet their continuing education requirements while taking the HCA’s course, which makes it much easier for students to justify spending time and money taking the program. They also run similar programs in the U.S. with nutrition organizations, but it takes a lot of time and patience to gain approval since each American institution has their own governing organization and requirements.
These organizations are important to the HCA since the majority of their clientele are not physicians. “Most of the people who are gravitating towards our kind of holistic cannabis education training are allied health professionals,” says Shields. This includes acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists, nutritionists, drug rehab counselors, mental health therapists, herbalists, and health coaches.
Shields believes that because these health practitioners generally spend a greater amount of time with their patients, as opposed to physicians who are usually in-and-out of each appointment, they are able to see the benefits of cannabis in a deeper way.
Helping Physicians Understand Cannabis as Medicine
As for why physicians are less likely to take interest in the program, Shields believes it’s simply a lack of information coming through the traditional channels.
“I think with [physicians] there’s a lot of, ‘Well, if I didn’t learn it in medical school, it can’t be true… this doesn’t have a lot of validity,’” Shields says. “Part of the problem is there’s a wealth of research available, [but] most of it has not been done in the U.S., so it requires a physician to look at it outside of the traditional channels. If the continuing education that goes on with physicians is very often delivered by pharmaceutical companies, that means they haven’t heard of the endocannabinoid system. They haven’t heard of cannabinoid medicine.”
“If the continuing education that goes on with physicians is often delivered by pharmaceutical companies, that means they haven’t heard of the endocannabinoid system. They haven’t heard of cannabinoid medicine.”
That said, Shields does believe there is a big way in which physicians are learning about medical cannabis: from their patients. With more people broaching the subject with their doctors and sharing first-hand accounts of progress they’ve made using cannabis, physicians are, in a way, being forced to acknowledge its medicinal properties.
“You know this whole stigma—and we refer to it as “cannaphobia”—it exists, and it’s alive and well. I think one of the problems particularly for licensed practitioners is, if they’re talking to their clients about [cannabis], they’re worried, is this within my scope of practice?”
Shields and the HCA say the answer to that is a resounding “yes.”
“This is education, and you have an obligation to your patient to give them a variety of options. It’s up to them to choose what they want to do.”
Still, not all patients are comfortable speaking to their doctor about cannabis. Shields notes, “A lot of patients are kind of intimidated [to have this conversation], particularly with a physician, who are kind of put on a pedestal.”
This is why it is so important for physicians to embrace education about medical cannabis and play an active role in deconstructing the stigmas. Fortunately, there is some hope. Slowly but surely, physicians are beginning to come around.
Exploring Patient Options and HCA Programs
When the HCA program first launched, the reaction was heavy with uncertainty. Now, only three years later, Shields sees a lot of the same physicians progressing their views as they witness legislative changes along with the personal accounts of their patient base.
Ultimately, the benefits of the Holistic Cannabis Academy program as not just for patients, but for healthcare professionals as well.
“If they have this level of competency, they can offer something that the health coach down the street doesn’t have, and therefore more clients will be interested to come to them. They can build their business, their practice, and generate revenue.”
As for patients who wish their own doctors would take the HCA program, Shields says they can offer some resources. While the HCA will not give out medical advice, they will inform patients about how to find good information on cannabis to take back to their doctors.
Student by student, the Holistic Cannabis Academy continues to educate all manner of health care practitioners about the benefits of medical cannabis, and in a world that is rapidly embracing cannabis reform, this education will grow in value for both curious, hopeful patients, and the practitioners who treat them.
Original Post: Leafly: This Program Wants to Teach Your Doctor About Cannabis